Description: As part of the efforts to help bring the district the Aizawa-gumi operates in back into normal life after the wake of the chaos in the city, Tairyu finds a collection of corpses in the sewer and makes plans to remove them. However, he gets some unexpected - and unsettling - assistance.
Deep within a certain district of Southtown, a horrid, putrid strench paints the air along one of the streets. It's a smell many have become familiar with in the last few weeks, surely. But the stench here is truly something else. It's aged, strong. And yet, it persisted well after the corpses on the streets were cleared out.
But now, two men are getting to the bottom of it.
A man in a blue-striped button-up shirt, with an overdone blonde hairdo jams a prybar into a manhole cover. Plenty of straining and groaning follow, before the cover comes loose, leaving the man panting for a moment. "Alright, that does i-"
"Nope," Tairyu interrupts the other man with a shake of his head. "Still gotta move it over."
At least the Yakuza boss does help his lieutenant with lifting the cover up and out of the way. Even if the lieutenant does whine plenty under his breath about doing this instead of one of the lower-ranked grunts.
And the uncovering of the drop down into the sewer tunnelage brings out an unpleasant updraft, carrying the stench of death all the more strongly to the noses of the two Yakuza.
For good reason, too. After Tairyu's shone a flashlight down, a morbid sight is shown. Decaying corpses in varying states of having been torn apart.
"Fucking hell..." He growls, nose wrinkling and free hand drawing up to shield his mouth and nostrils some. His companion has to do the same when he peeks out, though his reaction is much more visceral. Audibly gagging, possibly just barely keeping himself from hurling the contents of his stomach out. "Did they die down there, or did someone haul them there after the fact?
"Dunno, boss... hurk... Who'd even bother, though.... blrgh..."
"That's..." Tairyu pauses to give the other man a narrow-eyed look. Yeah, he's just having more trouble. "...GEt out of here, Sato. Get some calls made. If the city's not going to get this cleared, we have to find someone else who will."
Sato, as it turns out, is all too happy to follow that particular command. Especially the part that involves him running off to... more or less anywhere but *here*. Tairyu, for his part, straightens out from his crouch besides the manhole and clicks off the flashlight in his hand. He might be taking the stench much better than Sato did, but he does still have to back up away from the manhole. "...Ugh. Guess I should check some of the others."
"A razer strange hobby you seem to have zere."
As the yakuza takes a few disgusted steps back from the manhole his back suddenly impacts against something soft. Turning to investigate would reveal the culprit to be a woman - and an unusual one at that.
The most striking feature is her unnatural beauty, her loveliness so far beyond the norm that it's hard not to be taken aback by just how attractive she is. The contrast between her features, almost divine in their perfection, and the foul nauseating atmosphere makes her sudden presence all the more out of place and jarring. Perhaps just as confusing is the fact that she managed to sneak up on him without a hint of warning. Even his sharpened senses detected no trace of her presence until it literally hit him in the back as if she had appeared out of thin air.
Taking a moment to absorb her features, or several as is usually the case when someone gets caught in her glamour unprepared, would give more clarity to the mystery standing before him.
The woman is obviously a foreigner. Standing nearly as tall as Tairyu himself, she easily towers over the average native woman. Her skin is pale, almost unnaturally so, indicating that she likely see very little in the way of sunshine. Yet, where such a dearth of tone would usually lead to a pasty and unappealing complexion, her skin seems somehow more attractive for its light hue which only highlights the fact that she seems to bear no visible signs of imperfection nor aging.
Narrow hooded eyes the color of bright sapphires peer back at him from beneath the brim of a large puffy blue beret, twinkling with amusement. The corner of the woman's pleasantly-shaped mouth ticks upwards into a faint smirk as she regards him with casual nonchalance, her hands clasped behind her in a military at-ease stance. The uniform that she wears is easily recognizable to anyone familiar with Southtown. The strange mixture of casual fashion and military smartness along with the striking azure color is unmistakable.
While the nuances of which particular uniform belongs to which branch of the Librarium probably eludes Tairyu, the woman's manner of dress is similar to those he would have seen engaged in open battle with the dark stalkers on the streets. Well-crafted and loose enough to be maneuverable, the battle-dress provides her a good mixture of style and practicality. That it also seems designed to cling to all of her very appealing curves while offering glimpses of the tantalizingly perfect skin beneath in all the right places would be hard to miss on even a woman of average beauty; on her the outfit is practically scandalous.
It doesn't take a genius to ponder out the identity of the soft object that Tairyu accidentally stumbled into. Yet, if she is bothered by his apparent carelessness, this strange woman shows no signs of it. She offers a radiant smile to the gangster apparently unfazed by the horrendous stench that very nearly robbed one of his henchmen of their lunch.
"Zat or you are very vell dressed for a sanitation verker."
As firm as Tairyu's nerves might be, even he jumps faintly in place when he feels his back against something that he could swear was not there just a second earlier.
And so he's brought himself spun around, strung up like an over-tightened violin string for the two seconds it takes for him to realize he's... at least not in *immediate* danger. Though after taking in the militantly-dressed woman, he might still not be fully certain if that's the case. He does relax enough to not jump away from her, at least.
"... I don't suppose you would believe they pay sanitation really well in this city?" He asks of her -- though the amusement showing behind his words doesn't do anything to cast away the suspicion in his eyes.
...And it's only after saying that, that he seems to fully realize just where his hand had ended up, with that sudden turn as a result of being caught so horribly off-guard. His eyes stare down for a few seconds - a bit longer than is likely warranted - before he finally pulls the offending hand away. At least he had the decency to not *squeeze*. Even he has to clear his throat akwardly, after that, and without even realizing it, one of his feet shuffles subtly backwards, in an instinctive effort to grow the distance between the two-- even a little bit.
"Just a concerned citizen, ma'am."
The twinkle in the soldier's eyes only seems to take on a mischievous glimmer as Tairyu fumbles to recover from her unexpected arrival. To his credit, he manages to maintain far greater composure than most people thus caught off-guard by her unnatural lack of presence. Strange that she can somehow be so inconspicuous while being so very obvious at the same time. With her appearance it should be hard to miss her from a city block away much less five feet behind him.
"After ze last few veeks? I vould be more surprised to know zat anyone is villing to even valk over a manhole, much less muck about in zem."
The woman chuckles softly, her voice melodic and equally as pleasant as the rest of her. She speaks Japanese with the casual ease of a someone who has used it for a long time though the stark Austrian accent is impossible to miss. She makes a gesture towards the open sewer entrance with a casual wave of her hand revealing them to be clad in a pair of pristine white gloves.
"Vhich makes me vonder all ze more vat you are up to, mm?"
Though her tone remains conversational, there is an obvious edge of suspicion in the pale soldier's gaze as she narrows one eye at him. Stepping to one side, she moves around Tairyu and wanders up to the edge of the open manhole to peer inside. The sight of the heaped up remains causes her eyebrow to quirk upwards but elicits no further response. Even standing directly at the source of the putrid stench she seems utterly untouched by its effects. Turning peer over her shoulder at the yakuza, she gives him a questioning look.
"Friends of yours?"
"Still not getting a lot of pedestrians here," Tairyu points out. His voice, for being as smooth of a baritone as it is, somehow still manages to maintain an even, calm tone to it. Even if the woman is... unsettling to say the least. As composed as he's managing to keep himself, that fact isn't lost on him. She might be attractive enough for his eyes to easily wander, too, but still-- something about her is urging him to stay on guard. Maybe it's the uniform, maybe it's something else.
"... No. Not personally. At least I hope not."
A low sigh leaves his lips before they purse, and slowly, takes a sideward-guided step, intent on guiding himself circling around to the opposite side of the manhole from the mysterious woman.
"Like I said, I'm just a concerned citizen. We all just want our home back to normal. The smell of decaying corpses covering this entire street isn't exactly conducive to that."
Given she doesn't do anything to 'encourage' him to stop his steps before the fact, he does eventually stop once he's reached the opposing side of the sewer entrance, turned to facing her. Sizing her up all over again, with his sharp, wary gaze.
"And what are you doing here, exactly?"
Tairyu is allowed to approach with no protest from the soldier. Her gaze follows his path as he winds around to the far side of the open sewer tracking him with the lazy interest of a cat watching a butterfly flutter about on the other side of a room. Not enough of a prize to bother going through the effort to get up and give him a swat but more interesting than anything else going on at the moment.
"Ah," she says, her tone empathetic. "Yes, it must have been quite a shock for zose unfamilar vis such beasts to find yourselves suddenly under siege."
Her gaze drops back down to the ruined bodies and she shakes her head, sighing softly.
"Most unfortunate. A shame zat ze Librarium was not given greater authority to protect ze streets. Perhaps zis could have all been avoided wiz ze proper precautions."
The soldier rolls her shoulders into a light shrug, the amused smirk returning to her attractive face. She regards Tairyu with a silent stare that drags out a little longer than is comfortable.
The way that she says those words makes it almost seem like she's trying to be creepy and ominous on purpose. Perhaps she's just having a little fun at his expense. She already gave him a jump scare by sneaking up behind him.
The pale woman lifts a hand to rub at her chin thoughtfully as she peers down into the sewer once again. Seeming to strike upon an amusing thought, her smile widens suddenly.
"You said you vished those corpses to be removed, yes? Vould you like me to take care of zat for you?"
"Lot of people didn't take to it well, no..." The Yakuza agrees, though that agreement doesn't come happily, no.
It's all because of her. He's met many bizarre characters through his years in this city. But there's something particular about this pale woman in a military uniform. He can't get a good read on her.
And it's putting him on edge. The answer she gives to his question certainly doesn't help him be any less so.
The unsettling factor on her is enough that he actually shifts his foot subtly along the curb when she flashes that smile out. Why does just a few little twitches of facial muscles feel so anxiety-inducing?
"Huh? Well, I mean..." His deadpan tone breaks away, with his uncertainty. He even glances off to the side, briefly. He's not sure if he should be taking that offering at face value. "You have a crew with you that can move them?"
No, he has no idea what's waiting for him.
The soldier's smirk ticks upwards a couple of notches and she lets out a soft chuckle at the gangster's naivety. It still continues to amuse her how clueless most people are when it comes to the supernatural. Even with a literal army of mages stationed in their own city and professional athletes hurling spiritual balls of fire at each other for entertainment on a weekly basis people still seem caught off guard by the idea that strange powers exist.
Well, all the better for her, she supposes. The fact that so few people are knowledgeable about the bizarre and unnatural elements of this world makes it all the easier for her to keep her activities hidden. Even the NOL has shown an unexpected lack of knowledge regarding the occult aspect of magic, seeming far more interested in the cleaner and less unsavory elements. Throwing a ball of fire or a bolt of lightning around is nothing to scoff at but their narrow focus prevents them from seeing the true potential behind manipulating the essense of reality. Well, most of them. She's heard rumors of the sorts of experiments that a particular individual within their ranks gets up to.
"Why bring somevan to move zem..."
The pale woman speaks casually as she starts to roll up one of the long azure sleeves on her uniform revealing yet more of her pale flesh. Once the arm is exposed up to her elbow, she reaches down to withdraw a small knife from its sheath on her belt. The blade comes free with an ominous sharp sound.
"When zey can move zemselves?"
Without warning or preamble, the soldier lifts the blade and jams it into the center of her forearm. The sharp steel bites into her flesh with ease sinking all the way to the hilt in a single powerful downwards thrust that punches it out the other side. Dark red blood splatters onto the pavement and across the woman's front, staining her face and chest in hot crimson hues. The spray of her vital fluids is so intense and wild that it's clear she must have hit the artery directly - a wound that would be fatal to her within minutes if left untreated.
However, instead of cry out in pain or show any signs of concern, she gives Tairyu another amused smirk at what is likely to be a very confused and bewildered reaction. Stepping forward to stand just at the edge of the manhole, she holds the wounded arm over the opening allowing the precious vitae dripping freely from the blade embedded into it to drizzle down into the fetid pile of rotten bodies below.
"Frisch in den Tag!"
"What are y--"
Tairyu doesn't even have the chance to fully present his question before the first part of her answer is given. In the form of the sight of the pale woman impaling a knife through her own arm.
Bewildered would be right. The normally stoic Yakuza's expression twists with the sheer shock-- eyes widened, jaw slackened to leave his mouth slightly agape. And the lack of pained screams, agonized writhing -- it all adds up to the gangster being left simply standing there, frozen in place while his brain tries to catch up and properly process everything.
He's even left merely staring while she's holding her arm over the manhole. While she's letting what must be pints worth of life essence flow down off her arm and into the sewer. Amongst all the corpses.
Tairyu's mind finally catches on. He may not have witnessed things of this nature before, but he's witnessed enough in the realm of magic to at least jump to an assumption. A horrible assumption he would much rather not just wait and see if it's correct.
Rather than yelling out, rather than coming to her aid to attempt to stop the bleeding, Tairyu's eyes focus onto her arm as a target. One quick step forward, and a kick to the curb to send him leaping over the manhole, with knee brought up high before snapping it out again to send his foot to the underside of the pale woman's arm, to knock it away from the direct line to the corpses.
But. By then, it's already too late. If he wanted to stop the dark magic from taking hold, he surely should have acted several seconds earlier.
Much too late. But, the more horrifying part is that he couldn't have stopped it even if he knew what was going to happen, as evidenced by what happens next.
The soldier's smirk widens into an open grin as Tairyu's reaction to her blatant use of magic that most sane people would immediately recognize as twisted, or at the very least dark, is not to run away in horror but to leap directly at her. Such instincts speak of courage and valor, a rare trait among humanity. Yet his willingness to hurl himself at the unknown without hesistation also indicates the presence of another trait that typically accompanies such bravery: foolishness.
The yakuza's kick lands true without any trouble. In fact, the soldier doesn't even bother to try and avoid the blow. The reason becomes abundantly clear when the flying knee connects with its target. Rather than soft supple flesh he expected the impact feels as if he's struck a solid steel beam. The pale mage barely even flinches from the blow, her arm remaining steady over its mark as more and more blood flows down into the manhole.
"My my, but you startle easily."
A subtle shift of the woman's arm pushes the gangster's outstretched leg aside as he recoils from the impact of kicking her. The movement isn't particularly fast or forceful but it twists his limb offcenter enough to make the landing a lot more difficult than he anticipated.
"Have a seat and enjoy ze show. I don't do zis trick every day, you know!"
Chuckling with jovial amusement, the soldier turns her attention back to the stream of blood. By now the steady drizzle of bright red blood has turned into something altogether far less pleasant. A dark oily substance has begun to intermingle with the crimson turning the stream into a sticky putrid goop, more consistent in texture with old paint than fresh blood.
Whatever foul stench the days-old corpses lingering in the clammy sewers might have possessed it's nothing compared to the vile miasma of fetid putrescence that wafts off that horrid gunk. A wave of nauseating stench so thick it's almost palpable washes out from the stream of filth threatening to bowl the gangster over as the very air he breathes becomes so befouled that it sets his lungs aflame and his eyes watering.
"Gh--!" Tairyu's leg stings from the impact with the woman's surprisingly-solid arm enough for him to grit his teeth together momentarily. Only to be shoved aside by that same arm, the outstretched-leg swinging off to his side before he finally is brought down by gravity, both feet skidding along the curb a few paces over.
"This your idea of entertainment?" The Yakuza hisses out past those grit teeth, He manages to straighten up with that again just before the flow of all-the-worse stench, and he damned nearly does end up doubling over. Now *his* lunch is threatening to evacuate his stomach, but he just manages to hold himself together, with one arm held up over his mouth and nostrils.
"Ghh--! Who even are you?!" The roared out words are, still, muffled up from the arm shielding him, eyes narrowed over the limb at the pale woman.
The thick stream of disgusting oily blood steadily slows after only a few seconds until it becomes little more than a trickle. Looking at the pale woman's arm it becomes obvious that the wound inflicted by her insane self-harm has already closed leaving the blade trapped inside of the newly formed flesh. A quick tug on the handle yanks it free from her forearm giving Tairyu yet another vision of nightmarish design. The blood that clings to the weapon seems to stretch out like ropey strands of bubblegum, quivering and flexing like a living thing as it detaches from the steel to slither back into her veins leaving the weapon completely clean.
"Oh, did I forget to mention? How very rude of me."
Spinning the dagger deftly between her fingers, the woman slides it back into its sheath as she turns to face the yakuza. The putrid stench of rot and decay fades away enough that breathing is no longer painful though a visible shimmer of fetid air can be seen wafting up from the open manhole. Already the sounds of nascent terrors being born in the darkness below can be heard, sickly wet slapping sounds and dull wordless groans that tug at the memories of every cheesy horror movie.
"Allow me to introduce myself."
The mage gives him a deep European bow, bending at the waist while sweeping one arm around in front of her.
"Franziska Valken. Private First Class of the Novis Orbis Librarium."
She beams a warm smile at him that practically glows with unnatural beauty. Her attractiveness would be the sort of thing that could be called literally stunning, the sort of near divine perfection that has started wars in the distant past. How could such a creature command powers so utterly abhorrent?
"As you have probably already surmised," she says, returning to her casual at-ease stand. "My area of expertise lies in ze field of necromancy. A bit on ze icky side to most people, I understand, but completely wizin ze realms of standard magical theory."
"Gh-..." The disgust in Tairyu's eyes is clear. It might be easy to mistake it to be borne of the horrid stench taking over the air, or the rush of horror movie sound effects echoing out from the sewers... or even the truly horrendous image left behind by Franziska drawing the dagger out of her arm, rubbery strings of dried blood and all.
But truthfully, it comes from someplace deeper, for him. It's not just what he smells, hears or sees -- it's the entire concept of what is unfolding before him.
"Why is it always the pretty ones..." the Yakuza mutters, voice muffled enough by the arm before his face to suspect the words aren't actually meant for anyone's ears but his own, though a sharp ear could still catch it.
The overwhelming miasma of death assaulting the senses is still strong, and it shows on Tairyu's face even when he finally lowers his arm away -- he might have adjusted to it all enough to not actively try to block it, but it all does leave his nostrils instinctively scrunching in.
"And what," he growls out, notably *not* returning the bow to the woman. "Is someone of the Librarium going to do with a sewerful of undead?" Evidently he is not banking on the hope that she would, indeed, simply move them away and let that be it.
"Zat, I am afraid, is not ze business of civilians."
Franziska wiggles a finger at him like a precocious child asking questions well beyond his ability to understand. Her expression shifts from a beatific smile into a subdued smirk once again, clearly pleased at keeping her plans secret.
She had been assigned to the detail of cleaning up such messes in the aftermath of the city-wide assault, her unique powers giving her the ability to do so swiftly and without leaving a mess behind. Of course, she was supposed to do so quietly so that none of the local populace would notice. The reaction that Tairyu is displaying is to be expected in the face of such unusual magic. She can't blame him for being frightened of what he doesn't understand. Most people put undue reverence on the biological remains of former living organisms as if dressing up grandpa in an expensive suit before putting him in the ground somehow makes death more classy. If anything, she always found the practice of dressing up corpses to be particularly morbid when she was a mortal.
"Don't vorry your little head about it, mm? I am, as you said yourself, merely interested in returning zings to normal. Ze smelly corpses go away, ze streets get all squeaky clean, und everyone goes back to being happy little clams."
"Then who's business is it, exactly?" Tairyu barks back.
Teeth grind, fingers curl to form tight fists that dig fingernails into palms. For a Yakuza, he certainly cares shockingly much about the fate of corpses that likely do not even belong to anyone he knows.
"Not the people who bled here week after week? Not the people who lost someone to it all and just want closure? Not the people who don't want the memories of the lost defiled? Don't screw with me with that bullshit!"
The anxiety has been replaced by a different emotion altogether now. One that, rather than urging him to back away, instead drives him to take a step forward now. Perhaps without even realizing it, much like he doesn't realize his feet are already shifting apart slightly, with his legs bending just so as to prepare for sudden movement.
"Don't think just because I don't wear an uniform like that means I don't have a responsibility for this city. So answer me, Valken. What is going to happen to these bodies?"
The mage lets out a soft sigh, her eyes closing. Annoying brat. Of all the people to stumble across while collecting her samples it would have to be some uptight moral busybody with an excess of bravery.
She isn't particularly worried about being interfered with. The magic animating the corpses has already been cast. Even now the shambling remains would be piecing themselves together down below, their bodies reconstituted by her corrupted blood. Even if, by some strange coincidence, this well-dressed youth possessed the martial prowess to overcome her magical skills he would likewise need to know the arcane rituals necessary to dispel her grasp over the rotten bodies. Considering she hasn't detected even a whiff of magic from him that seems unlikely.
"Zhey vill be transported to a location where zhey can be properly dealt viz."
Franziska shakes her head at him, opening her eyes to give him a sideways look as if he were acting completely irrationally.
"You understand zat corpses attract disease carriers, mm? Even a few dozen vould be a massive health issue. Und zere are hundreds of situations like zis one, bodies heaped up und left to rot and fester."
She wiggles a finger at him again, her expression more stern this time. There is a hint of annoyance present in her gaze now that distracts from her charm, a glint of something dark and dangerous lurking beneath the mask of beauty. Most people would not be able to pick up on the subtle shift in her expression but anyone who has spent their time around dangerous people would recognize the telltales signs of violent intent.
"I do not have time for sentimentality, I am afraid," she says, her voice remaining calm but taking a firm tone. "Like it or not, my methods are ze quickest vay of cleaning up zis mess. If you vish to be angry at someone, direct your scorn at ze van responsible for zis carnage."
Personal feelings aside, even Tairyu has to, internally, accept at least part of the truth in the words of the magus. There is an efficiency to simply having the corpses... move themselves, as opposed to arranging all the resources and manpower required for transporting them in such a manner that isn't a health hazard for those involved.
Somehow that acceptance makes Tairyu feel even sicker.
But ultimately, that's not the only thing he has to accept. As much as he would love to take out his feelings on the magus, he doesn't know for certain that would be enough to stop this. And ultimately, uncontrolled horde of undead would be a disaster in and on itself.
The gangster's head turns off to the side, briefly, with an irritated flick of his tongue. He hates this. It's the same kind of feeling he had when he could not act against the Syndicate months earlier. And now the thing holding him back is the immediate fates of the townspeople.
"I hope you at least have the decency to move them through the sewer tunnels," he finally mutters. "And not make a scene."
Him relenting on the matter practically comes through grit teeth. The kind of begrudged acceptance that comes from not seeing any other way through things. While he acknowledges the end result of the method, he still can't bring himself to fully approve of the method itself.
"The people have suffered enough."
His head turns back to facing her upon her final words. Eyes narrowed, brows knitting together.
"... Don't worry about that. I have plenty of grudge to go around."
As always, the benefit of common sense ironically works in the favor of the bizarre monsters. It doesn't take much convincing to make the yakuza see things her way. A simple and reasonable explanation for something very obviously horrific and wrong and he's willing, if not happy, to let her go about her work. Ah, humanity, never change.
Franziska offers him another smile in response to his request, bowing yet again.
"Of zat, you need not vorry. It vas my intention to keep such things a secret to begin vis."
She takes on a concilatory tone, settling easily back into the role of diplomat. It is usually better to win fights with words rather than violence. Not because she has any sort of moral obligation to avoid bloodshed but simply because it is typically a more efficient solution. No resources need be expended and there's no chance of someone reporting her for killing a civilian. Had this confrontation taken place in a dark alley on the outskirts of the city things might be different. This goon should consider himself a lucky man.
"I apologize if my little magic trick alarmed you. I keep forgetting zat most people have a very different view on death zan I do. Much like a mortician or a grave digger, being around corpses so often desensitizes you to it."
No lie necessary there. Being stripped of her mortal empathy has made it sometimes difficult to tell how people will react around her. Spending the last several months cloistered up within an organization of fellow mages must have dulled her ability to make accurate judgements about how to act in public. What she considered to be little more than a joke very clearly rattled the young man. She will have to be more cautious in the future lest she draw unwanted attention.
"Pretty sure this goes beyond the realm of a 'magic trick'."
Under different circumstances that might even come across as friendly banter, but Tairyu's feelings on Franziska, as they currently stand, aren't really leaning towards 'friendly', in spite of her agreement to keep things under wraps.
At the very least, Tairyu's stance straightens up some. No longer wound up tightly and prepared for immediate combat. The scowl doesn't fade away with that. It remains there, firmly placed on the mage while his arms cross over his chest.
A number of different lines of thought run through his head in further consideration of the situation and the potential scenarios that follow. Tairyu has had to learn how to hold himself back significantly more ever since he got the seat of Aizawa-gumi's family head.
What a bother that is. But ultimately, needed. As much as he prefers to face problems head-on, sometimes one has to acknowledge that some issues can't be dealt with immediately.
"Why were you here in the first place?"
That question, though, he can't help but pursue, in spite of it all.
"No one else from the Librarium with you?"
The obvious tension in the air does not go unnoticed. Franziska continues to smile, keeping her body language and demeanor as pleasant as possible to ensure the situation remains calm. No need to go stirring up trouble today.
"Just following the trail," she says, tapping one gloved finger on the side of her nose. Though the horrendous gutwrenching odour from the sewers has all but vanished now, an indication that the corpses have likely already begun their journey elsewhere, it's hard forget that stench. Of course, she doesn't actually track by scent. Magic offers her far more sophisticated methods to locate her quarry and being a creature of undeath herself gives her a deep connection to such things. But something as noticable as the smell of rancid flesh should be adequate metaphor for the human to understand.
"Und, indeed, I verk alone. My talents are... somevat unique. I have been a busy little bee lately."
That probably couldn't sound any more suspicious to Tairyu's ears if she had tried to make it so.
He's probably feeling a lot less guilty about how their initial meeting went just a few minutes earlier, too.
"Busy bee seems... about right," he mutters, with a peek sent to the still-open manhole. His nose wrinkles. THe scent still lingers, but it doesn't leave in it's entirety easily. "Do I even dare ask what you've been busy with?" Not that he actually expects her to answer. Despite her clearly messing around with him to an extent earlier, she doesn't strike him as being terribly interested in playing around with him more than is necessary.
At least that would have helped justify letting his composure go.
Franziska quirks an eyebrow at the question. She thought it was fairly obvious what she would have been getting up to. Perhaps this man is less clever than she thought.
"Collecting ze dead, of course. Ze sooner ve can clean up ze mess left by recent events ze better. I'm sure zere are ozer units doing their part to help but ze Librarium suffered considerable casualties in ze fighting. Which, coincendentally, is why someone like me has been asked to handle this as quickly as possible."
Of course, she had made a concerted effort to ensure that her particular talents were considered for the cleanup operation. The chance to get her hands on so many fresh bodies was simply too great to pass up, even if she had to do a little pushing to get permission. Drawing attention to herself in that manner was not how she typically preferred to operate but the prize for taking a little bit of risk was immense. So far, things have been working out, but some loud mouthed goon going around stirring up a fuss could potentially hamper her plans.
"Ze... poor reception to my methods are not unfamiliar to ze ones in charge," she says, giving Tairyu a sympathetic look. "Which is vhy I vould ask zat you keep zis information to yourself. Stirring up sentiment zat could lead to tension between ze Librarium und ze people is ze last sing ve need right now, mm?"
The pale woman's features edging towards something of a sympathetic expression actually catches Tairyu off-guard. The surprise shows in his own expression.
Of course, she's entirely correct about tension between civilians and NOL being... an undesired effect. Or at the very least, there's no benefit there to be had. Teeth worry at his lower lip, for a brief few seconds, before he asks of her, "Then, did your superiors sign off on this?"
He has a feeling that he already knows what the answer is going to be. But he's not entirely sure if that particular answer would make him feel better about all this or not. Would it just end up stirring up further questions to be made about the character of the Librarium?
"... I do not wish trouble for your organization," he concedes, as such. "They deserve at least the benefit of the doubt, after everything."
WIth a furrowing of his brows, the scowl returns. "...But. I'm not sure I can offer you the same trust again, if I see you practicing that magic of yours here."
In the end, even if he has to agree to allow this particular act to pass without any noise, he can't fully trust what happens later. But under the circumstances, that ultimately will have to be a problem dealt with later.
And just like that she has him hooked. A small look of concern, a brief hint that she is giving consideration to his worries, and he's willing to look the other way. That she is an extremely attractive woman no doubt assists her ability to win him over. Were her exterior as rotten and diseased as her soul things likely would not have gone nearly as smoothly. Yet another benefit of the Chalice. Perhaps the lingering desire for eternal beauty that compelled one of its previous wielders is what grants her this boon. A shame that the woman no longer exists or she would offer her thanks for such a useful tool of deception.
Franziska's brilliant smile returns as the gangster offers her assurances of his silence, her bright eyes sparkling with dazzling charm. She bows to Tairyu again, the gesture coming easily to her from long years of practice during a time when such things were considered common manners.
"My thanks for your understanding."
Standing tall once more, the mage gives him one final look of amusement at his hesitance to wholly embrace what she is doing. Stubborn man. But his conditions are easy enough to deal with.
"Zen, I vill have to be more careful to remain unnoticed."
Reaching a hand up to grip the poofy beret, she lifts it from her head and nods at him in a gesture of farewell. With one final unexpected trick to play, she takes a step forward - directly into the manhole. Gravity quickly asserts herself and Franziska vanishes into the large opening, calling out a jovial, "Auf Wiedersehen!"
Rather than a hard thud or a wet splash, there is nothing but silence that follows what should have been her impact upon the sewer floor. Moments later a thick ropey tendril of brackish blood erupts from the dark hole, shooting several feet into the air. It flails about like a living thing, whipping in what seems like random directions for several seconds. Finally, it seems to get its bearings and snaps down towards the discarded iron manhole cover. With a wet slurp, the tentacle of foul fluid withdraws into the opening and drags the heavy lid in after it with a noisy clatter.
God. Why does even receiving words of gratitude from this woman feel wrong?
In the end, this did not ultimately result in bloodshed. He should feel satisfied with that. No blood shed, no bystanders put into danger. And yet, there's a pit in his stomach. A lingering sensation that colors the end result of this encounter for him in a much more negative light. The feeling that something worse is to come.
"I'm not sure if that's the poi--"
His protests regarding the perceived lesson in this incident are forgotten with that simple act she makes of stepping forward. And falling straight into the manhole. Her feelings on the woman aside, there is still a brief sting of concern that runs up his spine, and he even moves up towards the manhole to check what happened to her...
Only for him to be greeted by the tentacle of blood shooting out from the entrance.
He stumbles briefly with the sudden redirection of movement, before he's fully jumped back. Eyes travelling up the length of the otherwordly limb, while every instinct in him fires off to tell him to prepare for violence.
Thankfully, it all leads to but a final period on the woman's exit, with the cover pulled along with the tentacle and all. Still, it takes several seconds before Tairyu fully relaxes again.
...But even then. Drawing a hand up over to his face, he brushes a finger over his brow, lowering it down before his eyes after to find it moistened by perspiration. When did he start sweating?
"... Shit. I guess I'll have to call Sato off..." He mutters, largely to himself, before gathering up the pry bar left behind by his and his lieutenant's earlier efforts of investigation, before turning to take himself... somewhere that is not here.
Perhaps he will have to look into some of the late Aizawa's things again. See if any of his records indicate a contact with NOL. Truly, he can't do anything that would publicly cause trouble.... but maybe he can, at the very least, find more about this mysterious woman.
"... Franziska Valken. I have a feeling we'll meet again."
Log created on 19:08:26 01/10/2021 by Tairyu, and last modified on 19:20:39 01/12/2021.